Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Date of Award




Degree Level


LCSH subject

Counselors -- Training of; Counselors -- Supervision of; Mental health counselors; Family violence; Intimate partner violence

Proquest Document ID



1371297288 (OCLC)


St. Mary's University (San Antonio, Tex.)

Document Type


First Advisor

Ratliff, Dan


The heuristic inquiry-based phenomenological approach values focusing on a question or problem that has been a personal challenge in one’s quest to understand oneself and the phenomenon. Previous research has shown that counselors with a personal history of trauma who provide services to victims with a similar history report a range of negative consequences. The researcher utilized a heuristic research design to answer the following question: How do domestic violence counselors who have personal histories of trauma experience their clients who were victims of domestic violence? The methodology involved interviewing eight counselors, from whom four themes were identified: awareness of the counselor’s own experience, counselor’s demonstration of empathy, counselor’s self-care, and counselor’s countertransference. The counselors who were aware of their own traumatic experience conveyed empathy and demonstrated greater countertransference, which prompted the need for deliberate self-care activities. Four counselors who conveyed empathy demonstrated the overinvolvement form of countertransference, while counselors with low empathy demonstrated the distance or hostility form of countertransference.

Keywords: awareness of the counselor’s own experience, clients, counselors, counselor’s demonstration of empathy, counselor’s self-care, counselor’s countertransference, counselors with personal history of trauma, countertransference, domestic violence, effects and management of countertransference, empathy, heuristic inquiry, personal reactions, qualitative research design, survivors, trauma, vicarious traumatization, victim.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.